Festive fundraiser for Festival of Chichester

Gareth Williams
Gareth Williams

A special seasonal treat of words and music is heading Chichester’s way when the Festive Jazz Café takes off in the atmospheric setting of historic St John’s Chapel on Thursday, December 7 at 7.30pm.

The event is in aid of next year’s Festival of Chichester. A cast of performers will take the stage with a package of seasonal delights.

Headline guest is Gareth Williams, actor and singer with the Flying Pickets, who had a million-selliing chart-topper with the song, Only You.

Gareth has appeared extensively in film, TV and stage, including roles with the English Shakespeare Company and notably as Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls in the West End, alongside Barbara Windsor. Chichester audiences will remember Gareth for his starring role as Thomas Becket in the millennium production of T S Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral, staged in Chichester Cathedral.

Next year sees the release of Gareth’s latest film, Peterloo, directed by Mike Leigh to mark the two-hundreth anniversary of the Peterloo massacre in Manchester.

Gareth’s credits include EastEnders, a one-man show, Lennon In His Own Write, South Pacific, the US tour of The Caretaker and Waiting for Godot in the West End.

Gareth will be performing seasonal readings from Dickens and other favourite writers.

There’s mellow jazz from the eight piece jazz band, the Sussex-based Jazz Smugglers. Expect Gershwin, Cole Porter and all the favourite jazz standards from singer Maria and the band. Jazzy versions of Christmas carols are also on the menu.

Sussex poet James Simpson will be reading some of his recent poetry. James is a Jerwood/Arvon Award Winner who has collaborated with the artist Carolyn Trant on two collections, Hunting the Wren and The Untenanted Room.

Performing alongside Gareth and James is Emily Rose Smith, whose credits include Goblin Market for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sydmonton festival, Canaries Sometimes Sing (London and Antibes), Dr Faustus with Sam West and Chekhov in the Festival of Chichester.

Festival co-ordinator Barry Smith said: “We’re absolutely delighted to have the support of these fantastic performers who all have Chichester connections and have appeared in our festival. Audiences can be sure of having a great time and getting the Christmas season underway in swinging style as well as helping support next year’s festival.

“All proceeds will go towards the 2018 festival so it’s an opportunity for people to enjoy themselves knowing they are also supporting further treats next summer.”

Tickets £12 (students £10) from Novium/TIC, Tower Street, Chichester; 01243 775888; http://www.thenovium.org/boxoffice.